SpaceX has announced the full crew of the dearMoon mission, which will go to the moon and retun to Earth aboard the first lunar launch of the Starship. The ten crew members will be led by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, and the group includes DJ Steve Aoki and K-pop star TOP among the artists and celebrities chosen by Maezawa to go on the Starship’s maiden voyage.
If the dearMoon mission is successful, its crew will be the first private citizens to go beyond low-Earth orbit, according to CNN. The crew won’t land on the lunar surface, but will come within 200 kilometers (124 miles) of it, as they orbit the moon for three days before finally returning to Earth. The journey is scheduled to last a total of eight days, per Reuters, and has an open launch date in 2023. But it’s been in the works since 2018, after the Japanese billionaire bought all available seats on the SpaceX mission with the intention of giving them away.
Maezawa started accepting applications for crew members in 2021; among the selection criteria was a strong desire to “push the envelope” in an applicant’s given field, and willingness to support fellow crew members. Maezawa says he received one million applications from as many as 249 countries, and the final crew will be:
- Yusaku Maezawa, Entrepreneur - Japan
- Steve Aoki, DJ/Producer - U.S.
- Choi Seung Hyun (aka TOP), Musician - South Korea
- Yemi A.D., Multi-Disciplinary Artist - Czech Republic
- Rhiannon Adam, Photographer - Ireland
- Tim Dodd, YouTuber - U.S.
- Karim Iliya, Photographer - UK
- Brendan Hall, Filmmaker - U.S.
- Dev D. Joshi, Actor - India
- Kaitlyn Farrington, Snowboarder and Olympic Athlete - U.S.
- Miyu, Dancer - Japan
Maezawa says the eight crew members and two backup members will take part completely free of charge. Absent from the list are any career astronauts or scientists with the expertise usually associated with a lunar launch, but that’s kind of the point. Maezawa has some experience, having fully-funded his own trip to the International Space Station in 2021 aboard the Soyuz spacecraft.
Outside of the dearMoon mission’s crew leader, its members and prospective astronauts will be launching into space for the first time, and the same goes for the SpaceX Starship, too; this is what Elon Musk’s company has been building towards from day one. Space travel for the wealthy is now taking off, but in the grand scheme of things, Maezawa’s gesture is praiseworthy. The tentative launch of dearMoon could be delayed, but if (when) it takes off, the lunar flyby will get civilians that much closer to actually landing on the moon.